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Sterling, Cascades & CountrySide
COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: CountrySide considers tot lot surfaces
In response to resident inquiries, the CountrySide Facilities Committee is examining the effects of using shredded rubber as surface fill in the community’s 10 tot lots―and asking for community input on the issue.

The shredded rubber currently in use replaced wood chips in the tot lots more than 10 years ago, following concerns about costs and safety. Recently, residents asked the community to consider replacing the shredded rubber with wood chips, due to concerns about health and the environment.

A poll on the subject is underway on the CountrySide Community Association website at countryside-va.com. According to the CountrySide Proprietary, the online survey is scheduled to take place through the end of August.

Nearly two weeks into the voting, with close to 300 votes cast, residents supporting wood chips were in the lead, with 52.2 percent of the vote, compared to 47.8 percent in favor of shredded rubber in the playgrounds.

Community members are asked to review a five-page information sheet on the subject posted on the CountrySide website before placing their vote. The backgrounder provides information on life-cycle costs; an explanation of the difference between shredded rubber, or rubber mulch made from shredded tires, such as that used in CountrySide, and crumb rubber, which is used in artificial turf systems; the cost of replacing the fill in the tot lots; and more.

According to the research paper, the estimated cost to remove the shredded rubber from the 10 tot lots and replace it with wood mulch would be approximately $200,000. The funds for the project would come from an increase in the homeowners’ association assessment that could range anywhere from $1 per month for 10 years to $5 per month for two years.

Residents who would like to provide the Facilities Committee with comments or suggestions on the subject should contact Mike Stracka, the community’s facilities manager at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). He will be presenting the comments at the monthly committee meeting.

The committee meets the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Parkway pool meeting room. The next meeting takes place Sept. 10. Residents are welcome to attend and will be given priority at the start of the session.

Tech experts

The Loudoun County Public Library at Cascades offers technology assistance for members of the community provided by teens who know all about setting up email, downloading e-books and how to use apps, search airfares and more. The next session takes place at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 24. Bring your device or use one at the library. For information, call 703-444-3228.

Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]aol.com.

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COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Our award-winning educators
Educators in eastern Loudoun are giving young learners in our community a good start in countless ways, both inside and outside of the classroom. Two of them—Andrea Weiskopf and Karla Blasquez Soto—recently received awards for their outstanding efforts.

Andrea Weiskopf, who has been teaching Latin at River Bend and Seneca Ridge middle schools for the past 10 years, was recognized this year by the Classical Association of Virginia for excellence in the classroom. She received the association’s 2015 Angela P. Lloyd Book Award, presented to secondary school teachers with a demonstrated excellence in, and commitment to, teaching.

Weiskopf wasn’t always a Latin scholar. She began her exploration of languages by studying Spanish throughout high school, even though her mother always told her that she would enjoy Latin. She discovered Latin—and Greek—while studying at Bard College in New York.

After earning a Master’s degree at Rutgers in New Jersey, Weiskopf has been a teacher in public and private schools in Virginia for most of her career. A stint as an editor on Capitol Hill led her back to the classroom.

“I missed my true passions—working with children and Latin,” she said.

Karla Blasquez Soto, who has worked as a parent liaison at Countryside and Guilford elementary schools and at Sterling Middle School, received the 2015 Master in the Middle Educator of the Year Award from the Virginia Middle School Association.

The award recognizes educators “serving in roles other than classroom teachers, who have demonstrated a devotion to working with young adolescents and have demonstrated a commitment to best middle level practices,” according to the association.

“She’s amazing, absolutely amazing,” Countryside Principal Richard Rudnick said. “She is all about the kids and anything she can do to help the families find resources.”

Blasquez Soto was born in Veracruz, Mexico. She studied English Literature at the University of Veracruz and earned a Master’s degree in technology education at Atenas Veracruzana University, where she taught English as a second language.

She worked part-time at Countryside Elementary for the past year, at the request of Rudnick, who had worked with her at Guilford. In the coming school year, Blasquez Soto will be working full time at Sterling Middle School. Rudnick is in the process of finding someone to fill the part-time position now open at Countryside.

Summer reading: For its next meeting, the CountrySide Women’s Club book club is reading “A Spool of Blue Thread” by Baltimore’s Ann Tyler. The meeting takes place Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. at Panera Bread in Lansdowne.

Contact Kathie Felix at KFinLoudoun[at]aol.com.
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STERLING BOULEVARD: Getting ready for school
By Jen Lofquist

It’s official – summer is ending. Just this past weekend, I (along with the rest of Loudoun County judging by the crowds) went school supply shopping. This is the obvious end of the freedom of the warm days and long nights. Beyond just stocking up on pencils and pens, there’s more you can be doing to make sure your child is ready to go back come Aug. 31.

Make sure summer reading is still on the priority list. Show me a kid that loves to read and I will show you a kid that loves to learn. Becoming a competent and comfortable reader takes practice – just like any skill. So in these last few weeks stop by the library and stock up on books. When your child’s teacher asks what books he read, he’ll have a list longer than Santa’s.

Get involved with a sport. Studies have repeatedly shown that children who participate in team sports reap benefits off the field. They do better academically, have improved self-esteem, and even have improved relationships with their parents. There’s not a downside to this whole thing. As the school year starts, this is a great time to get your kid on a team. In our area, we’ve got plenty of options – including volleyball, wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, cricket, baseball, football, cheerleading and (my favorite) softball. If I tried to list all the leagues here, I would need more than one column, so search online for one of our local leagues.

Make an Odyssey―of the mind! Last year, Rolling Ridge Elementary sent five teams to the regional Odyssey of the Mind competition. I was lucky enough to coach my team, “A.S. G.E.E.K.S―We Dominate,” and I hated to see the season end. It was truly one of the great experiences of my life. Every kid involved worked hard, pushed the envelope and solved problems – all outside the classroom.

Goes to show you that if you give a child space to run, you just never know how far they’ll go. If your school doesn’t have the program in place, there’s no better time to get it started. You can learn more about this amazing program at odysseyofthemind.com or at our own regional site http://www.nwvoices.org Want .to get your own team started? You can email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I can put you in touch with the right people.

Beyond all this, make sure you spend these last weeks having a bit of fun before your kids get back on the bus and hit the books. Happy summer.
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COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Smokin’ Sterling
STERLING BOULEVARD: Play it again, Jen
CountrySide/Cascades/Sterling: Summer Scholars
CountrySide/Cascades/Sterling: Sizzling Sterling
STERLING BOULEVARD: Summer shindigs
COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: CountrySide artists at Oatlands in July
STERLING BOULEVARD: Heroes
COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Lowes Island mom helps Little Lights shine
COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Sterling Ruritans Present $14,800 in Scholarships
COUNTRYSIDE/CASCADES/STERLING: Sterling’s Own American Legion Riders
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